Bad For My Blood Pressure

First visit at the endocrinologist to treat hypothyroid. Waiting in the lobby with chairs whose arms are a bit too tight. I am weighed. The doctor asks me to sit on the exam table, so I do – no back support, legs dangling. In taking my medical history she asks about my weight history.  After more history, the doctor decides to take my blood pressure. While she wraps the blood pressure cuff around my upper arm, she asks why I’m not dieting. We discuss it while she takes the reading.  146/92.

A visit to urgent care for a UTI that may have moved to the kidneys. I’m feverish. The automatic blood pressure reader inflates suddenly enough that the large cuff won’t stay closed on my arm. The nurse insists on using a standard cuff on my forearm. 160-something.

Arrive at my usual nurse practitioner’s office with coffee. Walking, walking. Sit, tech immediately wraps the large cuff around my arm, holds the cuff closed while triggering the automatic blood pressure reader. 138/88.

At the allergist for a checkup. Arrive early so I can get my allergy shot – I’ve been getting shots weekly for over a year. The usual routine of sitting until my name is called, confirming that I took antihistamines, confirming my name and birthdate, and so on is calming.  This time I’m going back for a checkup instead of reading twitter or a book in the lobby, but I’m still feeling relaxed as I sit on a chair with my feet flat on the floor, go over my med list, and then get my blood pressure taken. 126/80.

I finish a slice of toast with peanut butter and a can of diet Pepsi as I arrive at the endocrinologist’s office. I rest 5 or so minutes in the waiting room.  Once in the exam room I sit in an armless chair. When the doctor takes my blood pressure, I stay seated, feet on the floor, resting my arm at heart level on the counter, and we both stay silent. 132/82.

15 thoughts on “Bad For My Blood Pressure

  1. Yep. Different every time. How fat did you say you are? Oh, you need a BIG cuff? Sorry, can’t find it. We’ll just use this machine to squeeze your lower arm off while I fuss with papers. Next office: nurse wraps appropriate cuff around upper arm, pumps air by hand and listens. 120/80.

    • Definitely not a way to take BP! I did point out at the time it’s usually lower, and lowest at the allergist’s (where I am most frequently). She then suggested “There might be some white coat hypertension going on.” I suggested that talking about my weight tends to be anxiety-producing too, just from my general life experience.

      Trust me, I noticed she took it differently this week.

  2. Yup. The last time I had my blood pressure taken was while donating blood. I was relaxed and confident in the fact that the only reason they wanted the reading was to make sure I fit their criteria of a safe donor. 120/70.

    The time before that, I was awaiting a Pap smear — I have chronic pelvic pain — and the MA who was taking my reading was pregnant and having noticeable pain and significant concern about said pain during the reading. 160/100

    What, exactly, did you think would happen?

  3. Not being snarky, but genuinely puzzled; aren’t the first three examples the usual way to take blood pressure? I don’t think I’ve ever had my arm supported even on the odd occasion I’m sitting in a chair (even if the chair has armrests they make me take my arem off and dangle it); it *always* hurts a lot, they squeeze so hard; and often I either have my legs dangling and/or no back support. Plus of course I’m deathfatz so if I haven’t had the lecture/guilt trip already it’s definately coming…

    I hate doctors. I really do.

  4. Same doctor. One appointment, they couldn’t find the large cuff and so used the automatic machine with the cuff on my forearm. 140something/90something, I believe. Still normal.

    My next appointment – large cuff, manual reading. 110/70and some change. I was on cold meds, though.

    When you use the right size cuff and do it manually, I’m almost always around 110/70. I find on me, automatic machines are WAY inaccurate. I was talking to my doctor about it, and they said that the machine goes to 180 before going down to your blood pressure. With the machine, it hurts like whoa. With a manual, it’s uncomfortable, but not as purely painful.

    It’s really honestly ridiculous.

  5. Very interesting. Those automatic machines can be so painful that I think they must have a significant effect, but the MA always dismisses my concern

  6. Considering how BP is an honest-to-God vital sign (unlike weight) and how important it is to obtain accurate readings, one would think practitioners would take pains to make sure they’re getting good data.

  7. Pingback: Tests Are In … | Living ~400lbs

  8. How do you type a splutter? #@#@? Why in the world would you talk about something upsetting while taking someones blood pressure!!! Sorry but your endocrinologist is an idiot. You’re not even supposed to let someone see the numbers cos it might affect the result.

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